“The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” Proverbs 20:12
Multiple times in the Scriptures it is recorded that Jesus, during His public discourse, would say (this from Matthew 11:15), “He who has ears to ear, let him hear!” In the book of Revelations chapter 2, Jesus sent messages to seven churches, and after each message He says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” I once heard a sermon on these messages in Revelations 2 and it was suggested that this statement was more of a reminder to listen closely to the message and its warning. “You all have ears, so there’s nothing stopping you from listening attentively to the message” was the interpretation. Was this just an exhortation to all those within hearing distance to listen intently to the message? I don’t think so; I think it was more than that.
Consider this statement from Jesus in Matthew 13, when His disciples questioned His use of parables:
“And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull, their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.’”
These men didn’t have physical issues with hearing or seeing, it was a spiritual problem. The Jews of Jesus’ day where spiritually blind and deaf, and it stands to reason that this would apply to all men who would hear or read God’s words, if they do not have an “ear” to hear them, they will be deaf to the true meaning that is being conveyed.
I find it amazing that Jesus intentionally spoke in such a way that only those who are in a proper spiritual condition can understand it. God, in His wisdom, reveals truth in such a way that men can only receive His revelation if their hearts and minds are in the proper spiritual condition. The Scriptures clearly teach that you must be spiritual to discern spiritual things, and that a carnal or natural man cannot receive spiritual truths. “But the natural man does not receive the things of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
God’s purpose in “disguising” these truths in parables was so that only those who already “had” would be “given more” but those who “had not” would not get more, but would rather lose anything they had. Therefore, we must remember that it is not our intellectual abilities or even the amount of time spent studying that gives us an increase in understanding spiritual truths, but it is the spiritual condition of our hearts and minds that allow us to gain the increase. Remember too that it is God who gives us the “ears” and “eyes” to increase our understanding, so we must be aligned with Him to gain the increase.
The question then becomes: “How do we get these spiritual ‘ears to hear’ and ‘eyes to see’?”
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)
We must approach God’s truths humbly and make sure that we have dealt with our fleshly pride. Our heart can be deceptive so we must be honest with ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our true thoughts on this matter. Our attitude needs to be in recognition of Him as the Creator, and us as the creature; Him as having all knowledge, and us with very limited knowledge; Him as all powerful, us as weak and in need. We must be open to any truth that He is attempting to communicate, and not closed by preconceived ideas. We must forget what we have learned from this world, from our business experience or worldly education – much of this is associated with the pride of our flesh. We are His humble (and unprofitable) servant, with very little to offer Him. It is only His mercy and grace that He would even look upon us to impart to us truth. This is the attitude we need to have in order to hear from God.
“By faith we understand…..” (Hebrews 11:3)
As the basic spiritual truths become a reality in our lives, we begin to understand more and more about the things of God. As we walk in faith, or as we live our lives from day to day in the light of basic spiritual truths, we continue to increase our understanding of deeper spiritual truths. God opens our eyes; He shows us things in His Word or in our surroundings. We begin to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. As we patiently endure through the trials that come to us, we not only strengthen our character, but we increase our understanding of God’s will and purpose for us. As we focus our hope on what God has promised and store up our treasures in heaven, we see the spiritual value of our surroundings in the light of eternal values, and understand our place and purpose in this life in this context. It takes time, but as our faith strengthens, the result will be that our depth of spiritual understanding will increase. As we die to this world, and recognize that our true home is not on earth, and as we die to our flesh and the temporary pleasures that this world has to offer, we can then see our surroundings with different eyes and hear the related spiritual truths with new ears.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…..” (Proverbs 1:7)
Honoring the Lord’s precepts and commandments and walking in true spiritual love will free us from the deception of the enemy and put us in God’s favor. Our sins blind us; they ensnare us and put us into bondage. Jesus came to free us from this. We cannot expect to have the ability to understand spiritual truths if we are imprisoned by the bondage of sin. We must first deal with our flesh and with sin before we can be open to hear from the Lord. Death to this world and our flesh gives us the power to walk in the Spirit and in holiness, and will in turn give us the ability to see and hear God’s truths.
I am sure that there are more areas that we can discuss that will increase our spiritual perception. The 3 areas that I mention above, humility, faith and holiness, are a good start. I believe these 3 are inter-related and ultimately are related to our ability to walk in the Spirit.
We all have a desire to know more of the things of God and to understand more of His truths. My main point is that, unlike the approach that the world takes to increase our power through educating ourselves and increasing our knowledge, we as Christians must recognize that our increase comes from God, not from our own efforts put towards education. Also, in order for us to increase, we must first prepare our hearts and minds; we must first become spiritual and move away from our carnal, natural minds. Only then can we truly perceive the spiritual truths that God has for us. We must therefore spend time preparing our hearts by humbling ourselves, checking ourselves that we be “in the faith”, and by keeping our flesh in check so that we can walk in holiness with a godly character. Then our spiritual eyes and ears will be acutely in tune to what the Spirit of God is communicating to us.
(Lord, please heal our eyes and ears and give us the ability to hear and see in the Spirit!)
After reading this, consider this verse from Matthew chapter 6 (vs.22, 23), and the importance of what Jesus is teaching: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad (Evil or unhealthy), your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
My desire is to have my body full of light, and not full of darkness. Amen, Lord let it be, by your mercy and grace.